ERCA places Pelee Island, Essex Region on indefinite flood watch
Beach communities, shoreline areas of Lake St. Clair, Detroit River, Lake Erie among areas of concern
The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) announced on Wednesday an indefinite flood watch for all of shoreline areas within Essex region, including Pelee Island.
The conservation authority said low-lying beach communities and shoreline areas along Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie — as well as low-lying areas along the "downstream reaches of major tributaries" — are areas of potential concern.
Citing record-high lake levels, ERCA said areas that could be affected can vary day-to-day based on wind speed and direction.
"Our office is advising residents to take proper caution especially near shoreline areas where conditions can change quickly based on wind speed and direction," reads an excerpt from a Wednesday media release.
Northeast/East winds concerning for:
- Lake St. Clair shoreline from Windsor to Belle River.
- Lake Erie shoreline, including Pelee Island.
- The Detroit River shoreline.
North winds concerning for:
- Lake St. Clair shoreline from Belle River to Tilbury north
South/Southwest/Southeast winds concerning for:
- Lake Erie shoreline, including south Pelee Island
West winds concerning for:
- West shoreline of Pelee Island
Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair water levels above March 2019 averages
According to preliminary information, ERCA said water levels in Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair will be 29 centimetres and 21 centimetres above their March 2019 monthly averages.
ERCA said if confirmed, those numbers would be seven centimetres and three centimetres respectively higher than monthly average records previously set in 1986.
"Levels within Lake St. Clair are particularly high and concerning as recent rainfall in the later part of March 2020 has caused a spike in water level," ERCA said.
Additionally, ERCA said current predictions suggest that water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to rise between seven centimetres and 13 centimetres until late April.
Water levels along Lake St. Clair are "of particular concern," ERCA said, because should forecasts prove correct, it would mean the lake would have a static water level fewer than 30 centimetres below a one-in-100 year peak water level which accounts for wind.
Measures in place to facilitate evacuations, says Windsor fire chief
Speaking during a Windsor city council special meeting on Wednesday, Windsor fire Chief Stephen Laforet said there are measures in please should evacuation be necessary.
As an absolute last resort, Laforet said reception centres or community shelters would be used to house residents, despite the potential risk of spreading COVID-19.
With files from Jason Viau